I am pleased to announce the availability of a fight for sight funded PhD studentship working with myself, Sajjad Ahmad and Colin Willoughby in the Department of Eye and vision science, University of Liverpool.
Advert will be posted next week however you can read about the project below and, if interested, feel free to direct message me and we can arrange a time to chat.
Aniridia is a rare and severely blinding condition that affects 1 person in 100,000. Vision is affected from birth due to problems with eye development and this gets worse with age.
One of the affected areas is the cornea (the usually clear front surface of the eye). In aniridia, the cornea becomes painful and hazy because the cornea’s surface stem cells (called limbal stem cells) stop working normally. Limbal stem cell transplants can treat some other conditions but this doesn’t work in aniridia. So in this project the aim is to find what happens to the limbal stem cells that makes aniridia different.
The team is studying mice with a genetic fault in the gene PAX6. This gives them a mouse version of aniridia. Evidence from the mice suggests that nearby cells called fibroblasts and the tissue surrounding the limbal stem cells (called the extracellular matrix) are also affected, but they haven’t yet been studied.
In this project the team is finding out what happens to human limbal stem cells when you grow them on fibroblasts from aniridia mice. Fibroblasts and limbal stem cells can both make extracellular matrix, so the team is also looking at how it turns out when faulty PAX6 is involved. They also want to know what happens to fault limbal stem cells when they’re grown on normal fibroblasts and extracellular matrix, to see if they can be rescued. The results should shed light on how it might be possible to treat aniridia in future